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Added: April 14, 2023
Updated: April 14, 2023
Recruitment of participants to, and their retention in, RCTs is a key determinant of research efficiency, but is challenging (Treweek 2013). As a result, trialists and CTUs are increasingly exploring the use of digital tools to identify, recruit and retain participants.
Examples of these tools include:
• Eligibility: searches and interactive record tools to support clinicians screening participants (e.g. Koepcke et al. 2013)
• Recruitment: trial websites, social media and email campaigns to engage with the public
• Retention: Emails, websites, text messages or apps to retain patients in trials and help them meet drug, behavioural adherence or outcome assessment criteria
These tools should benefit research by reducing costs, avoiding waste and speeding delivery of results, improve recruitment reach and reduce recruitment of ineligible patients (around 6% in Koepcke’s study 2013). However, selecting appropriate digital tools is challenging because few have been evaluated rigorously. Also, different success metrics are used: for example, reduced screening time, improved coverage of recruitment or percentage of patients recruited. We need to understand which metrics are most relevant to stakeholders, to ensure wider uptake of effective tools.
We identified only one systematic review in this area, on databases to improve trial recruitment [Koepcke 2014]. The methods used were not rigorous by current standards, and it located only 9 studies using reasonably robust methods. It concluded that databases could reduce the time taken to screen participants, improve participant coverage and actual recruitment rates by between 14% and 6 times, though 4 of 5 studies used an uncontrolled before-after design and the fifth was confounded.
Our view, is that the evidence base for these tools needs to be assembled, mapped and critically appraised before synthesis, where appropriate. Only then can we confidently advise on the wider use of such tools by trialists, or on further primary research.
Added: March 8, 2023
Updated: March 8, 2023
Background: The crisis in research culture is well documented but there is still a tendency for quantity over quality, unhealthy competitive environments, and assessment based on publications, journal prestige and funding. Research institutions need to assess their own practices to promote and advocate for change in the current research ecosystem. To build an understanding of research culture and institution’s current practice, we conducted a review to address the questions ‘What does the evidence say about the ‘problem’ with ‘poor’ research culture, what are the benefits of ‘good’ research culture, and what does ‘good’ look like?
Aims: To examine the peer-reviewed and grey literature to explore the interplay between research culture, open research, career paths, recognition and rewards, and equality, diversity and inclusion, as part of a larger programme of activity at the University of Southampton.
Methods: A scoping review was undertaken. Six databases were searched along with grey literature. Eligible literature had relevance to academic research institutions, addressed research culture, and were published between January 2017 to May 2022. Evidence were mapped and themed to specific categories. The search strategy, screening and analysis took place between April-May 2022.
Results:1666 titles and abstracts, and 924 full text articles were assessed for eligibility. Of these, 254 articles met the eligibility criteria for inclusion. A purposive sampling of relevant websites was drawn from to complement the review. Key areas for consideration were identified across the four themes of job security, wellbeing and equality of opportunity, teamwork and interdisciplinary, and research quality and accountability.
Conclusions: There are opportunities for research institutions to improve their own practice, however institutional solutions cannot act in isolation. Research institutions and research funders need to work together to build a more sustainable and inclusive research culture that is diverse in nature and supports individuals’ well-being, career progression and performance.
Added: March 8, 2023
Updated: March 8, 2023
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the potential significance of preprints in a public health emergency, and now with their continued use, preprints are considered within the context of open research. Funders and publishers are establishing their position on the use of preprints, in grant applications and publishing models. The purpose of this scoping review was to review the current evidence on the use and acceptability of preprints by publishers, funders, and the research community throughout the research pathway.
Methods: A scoping review was undertaken with no study or language limits. The search strategy was limited to the last five years (2017-2022) to capture changes influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., accelerated use and role of preprints in research). The review included international literature, including grey literature. Two databases were searched: Scopus and Web of Science on 24 August 2022.
Results: 379 titles and abstracts and 193 full text articles were assessed for eligibility. Ninety-eight articles met eligibility criteria and were included for full extraction. For barriers and challenges, 26 statements were grouped under four main themes (e.g., volume/growth of publication, quality assurance/trustworthiness, risks associated to credibility and quality). For benefits and value, 34 statements were grouped under six themes (e.g., openness/transparency, increased visibility/credibility, open review process, open research, democratic process/systems, increased productivity/opportunities).
Conclusions: Opportunities for rapid dissemination using preprints means that best practices through policies and guidelines are required from journals, publishers, and funders, to ensure preprints become embedded into practice. Cautionary measures to maintain quality are needed, both to be transparent with the public and to maintain credibility within social media, so care is recommended when reading and digesting research from preprints. Transparent guidelines by journals and funders are required to articulate to academia the role and purpose of preprints compared to a peer reviewed journal publication.
Added: March 7, 2023
Updated: March 7, 2023
Background: Adequately conducted systematic reviews with meta-analyses are considered the highest level of evidence and thus directly defines many clinical guidelines. However, the risks of type I and II errors in meta-analyses are substantial. Trial Sequential Analysis is a method for controlling these risks. Erroneous use of the method might lead to research waste or misleading conclusions.
Methods: The current protocol describes a systematic review aimed to identify common and major mistakes and errors in the use of Trial Sequential Analysis by evaluating published systematic reviews and meta-analyses that include this method. We plan to include all studies using Trial Sequential Analysis published from January 2018 to January 2022, an estimated 400 to 600 publications. We will search Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, including studies with all types of participants, interventions, and outcomes. Two independent reviewers will screen titles and abstracts, include relevant full text articles, extract data from the studies into a predefined checklist, and evaluate the methodological quality of the study using
the AMSTAR 2, assessing the methodological quality of the systematic reviews.
Discussion: This protocol follows the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P). The identified mistakes and errors will be published in peer reviewed articles and form the basis of a reviewed guideline for the use of Trial Sequential Analysis. Appropriately controlling for type I and II errors might reduce research waste and improve quality and precision of the evidence that clinical guidelines are based upon.
Added: February 17, 2023
Updated: February 17, 2023
Relatively little is known about the practice and implications of using standardised research measures with people living with dementia at different degrees of severity. It is crucial that we learn more about the ways that dementia symptoms and their progression can affect both the quality (reliability and validity) of quantitative data, and the experiences of research participants.
I am investigating the quantitative data collection encounter from the perspectives of participants living with dementia and research workers administering standardised measures. I will consider the impact of dementia symptoms as they change over time, combined with the interview context and questionnaire content, on the types and quality of data collected.
Added: January 1, 2023
Updated: January 1, 2023
The factors which influence participant retention in paediatric randomised controlled trials are under-researched. Retention may be more challenging due to child developmental stages, involving additional participants, and proxy-reporting of outcomes. This systematic review and meta-analysis explores the factors which may influence retention in paediatric trials.
Using the MEDLINE database, paediatric randomised controlled trials published between 2015 and 2019 were identified from six general and specialist medical journals. The review outcome was participant retention for each reviewed trial’s primary outcome. Context and design factors were extracted. Retention was examined for each context and design factor in turn, with evidence for an association being determined by a univariate random-effects meta-regression analysis.
Ninety-four trials were included, and median total retention was 0.92 (inter-quartile range 0.83 to 0.98). Higher estimates of retention were seen for trials with five or more follow-up assessments before the primary outcome, and those less than six-months between randomisation and primary outcome. Trials involving children aged 11 and over had the higher estimated retention compared with those involving younger children. Those trials which did not involve other participants also had higher retention, than those where they were involved. There was also evidence that a trial which used an active or placebo control treatment had higher estimated retention, than treatment-as-usual. Retention increased if at least one engagement method was used. Unlike reviews of trials including all ages of participants, we did not find any association between retention and, number of treatment groups, size of trial, or type of treatment.
Published paediatric RCTs rarely report the use of specific modifiable factors that improve retention. Including multiple, regular follow-ups with participants before the primary outcome may reduce attrition. Retention may be highest when the primary outcome is collected up to six-months after a participant is recruited. Our findings suggest that primary research into improving retention when trials involve multiple participants such as young people, and their caregivers or teachers would be worthwhile. Those designing paediatric trials also need to consider the use of appropriate engagement methods such as incentives or reminders.
Added: November 8, 2022
Updated: November 16, 2022
The project is investigating how to best support career development conversations in academia. The project will test tools that could support career conversations by arranging for researchers to experience two different forms of development tool / experience (such as 360-degree feedback tool and career planning tool) and then asking them to provide a pairwise comparison.
We will also explore researcher's perceptions and experience of the barriers to career development conversations.
Added: November 8, 2022
Updated: November 16, 2022
This project investigates how Postdoc researchers value and trade off the different characteristics of (potential) research positions (length of position, salary, location, reputation of research group etc) using a Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE); how Principal Investigators value and trade off the characteristics of Postdoc positions for different applicants (through interviews or a a separate DCE and examine longitudinal employment data on research positions in universities. We will combine these sources to explore what feasible options exist for improving the career stability of Postdoc researchers. Our initial research will identify the key drivers of position selection through interviews and focus groups. We will use then quantify these insights using discrete choice experiments and investigate whether the valuations and trade-offs are affected by demographic characteristics of the researchers and principal investigators.
Added: November 8, 2022
Updated: November 16, 2022
Using live recruitments at the University of Cambridge, this project investigates the effect of CV format on shortlisting decisions for Postdoc recruitment, and ithe causes of any differences. Applicants will be asked to submit a Narrative CV (in the Résumé for Research and Innovation format) alongside their standard academic CV. Two application packages (ie CV + covering letter + additional materials) will be produced for each candidate - one with the Narrative CV, one with the Standard CV. These packages will be independently ranked to test if the format of the CV affects the order of the ranking. The whole panel will then be given both application packages; repeat the shortlisting; and then follow the usual processes for interviewing and offering an appointment. To add depth to our observations, we will interview a sample of applicants and recruiting researchers to explore their experiences of preparing and reviewing the different CV formats.
Added: November 1, 2022
Updated: November 1, 2022
There has been a growing focus on improving the informed consent process for research. However, some people with problems with their memory or understanding may lack capacity to provide consent for themselves. In these situations, a proxy decision-maker (usually a family member) is needed to help make a decision about whether they take part or not. Involving proxies can be challenging, which contributes to people with incapacity being under-represented in research. Our previous study found that it was difficult for some family members to make a decision, and they experienced an emotional and decisional burden as a result. Families thought that greater support when making decisions about research would help. This led us to develop the first decision support tool for family members making decisions about research. This tool was found to be acceptable and we now need to test whether it is an effective form of support. We have also conducted further work to explore how to measure its effectiveness through establishing which outcomes matter, to whom, and why (COnSiDER Study). This project will explore whether the support tool is effective, what factors affect this, and how much it costs. This will be done using a Study Within a Trial (SWAT) which is a self contained research study that is embedded within a host trial/trials with the aim of evaluating a particular trial process.